The Washington Spirit and Reign FC played to a scoreless draw at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Despite chances from both sides, neither team could break the deadlock after 90 minutes.
Keeper Aubrey Bledsoe put in an incredible performance between the sticks. Her night started early as she collected a Jodie Taylor header from the right side of the box in the 4th minute. Bledsoe continued to stop shots, bolting off of her line in the 42nd minute to stop a Reign chance from developing inside the box. At the half, Bledsoe had six saves to her name.
Bledsoe continued to frustrate opposing attackers in the second half as she made three more saves to preserve the Spirit’s clean sheet. In the 85th minute, Bledsoe somehow saved a point-blank shot from Bethany Balcer, extending her right hand to deflect the chance wide of goal. Bledsoe finished the night with nine saves.
Spirit attackers Cheyna Matthews and Jordan DiBiasi left their marks on the game, combining to make five key passes. Matthews entered the game in the 46th minute and had an immediate impact, as she made a streaking run in towards goal two minutes later, only to have her shot deflected wide of goal.
Spirit players Bayley Feist and Australian Women’s National Team player Chloe Logarzo made their NWSL debuts for the Spirit, with Logarzo subbing on in the 66th minute and Feist entering in the 80th minute. Logarzo found herself with space in the third minute of added time and showed off her fancy footwork with a heel-to-heel flick and subsequent nutmeg on Reign defender Megan Oyster.
Although both teams were missing members of the USWNT who were not playing since they have reported to camp prior to the Women’s World Cup next month, the match provided no shortage of offensive firepower as the two teams combined for 31 shots, with 14 on target. Chances were taken from everywhere on the field, as the Spirit took eight shots inside the penalty area and five outside. Both teams combined for 16 corners on the night, and also played in 27 crosses.
Earlier last week, it was announced that two Washington Spirit players, Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh had been named to the roster for the US team for next month’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. This will be the first world cup for Lavelle and Pugh who have both become consistent players in USWNT head coach Jill Ellis’ side. They both were featured prominently during both the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship last fall and the 2019 SheBelieves Cup in March.
21-year-old Pugh has made 48 appearances for the U.S., as she most recently started all three of the USA’s 2019 SheBelieves Cup games. Midfielder Lavelle has notched 24 caps for the national team and has scored 6 goals, including the championship-deciding goal against Canada in the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
Spirit head coach Richie Burke shared his excitement about Lavelle and Pugh joining the national team, saying: “We are thrilled for Mal and Rose to head off to France. I’m in their corner 100 percent and I hope they show well, highlighting our brand of football and flying the Spirit flag loud and proud in front of the world’s audience.”
Burke continued on to say, “They are both magnificent players and integral parts of what we are trying to achieve with this year’s Spirit team. I believe the WC experience will serve to elevate them and give us a huge boost for the run into the end of the season. Best of luck to both players, we will be with them every step of the way.”
Lavelle and Pugh both joined the USWNT in late April to participate in training camp leading up to their fixtures against South Africa, New Zealand and Mexico. All three fixtures are part of the USWNT’s Send-off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods, leading up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA faces South Africa on Sunday, May 12, at 4:30 pm at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. From there, the USA will travel to St. Louis, Missouri for its second match, facing New Zealand on Thursday, May 16, at 8:00 pm at Busch Stadium. The U.S. will play their final Send-off Series match on Sunday, May 26, at 12:00 pm at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.
Both Lavelle and Pugh will join the USWNT in France this summer as they compete in Group F at the 2019 WWC, beginning with their group-stage match on June 11 at 3:00 pm against Thailand in Rheims, France. Other Group F members include Chile and Sweden.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup runs from June 7-July 7, and all 52 games will be shown live on FOX, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 and on tablets and mobile devices through the FOX Sports app.
Top: Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe dives to save a shot to preserve Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the Seattle Reign.
Next: Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh have been named to the roster for the US team for next month’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Photos courtesy Washington Spirit.